New Delhi, August 2: In the wake of a spike in Monkeypox cases in the country, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Tuesday that people should not panic and that an awareness campaign is being run in partnership with state governments to limit the spread of the infection.
"There is no need to be afraid of monkeypox, an awareness campaign is being run in collaboration with the state governments: Public awareness is very necessary for the context of monkeypox. We have also formed a task force under the chairmanship of a member of NITI Aayog on behalf of the Government of India," the Union Minister said while addressing the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday during the ongoing Monsoon session.
" On the basis of the observations of the task force, we will assess and study the further action to be taken. If the state government of Kerala needs any kind of help from the Central government, it will be given. Also, an expert team of the Central government is guiding the state government from time to time," he added.
The Union Minister emphasised that when (Monkeypox) cases began to surface around the world, India had already started preparations. "Before the first case in Kerala, we had issued guidelines to all the states," Mandaviya said.
The Health Minister further added that it has been written to the governments at the international level that the screening report of the travellers should also be sent to the respective authorities concerned.
"If someone in the family has had Monkeypox, then keeping a distance from him for 12-13 days is advised and thus, the spread can be controlled. With constant vigilance, we can control it well," he stated.
Noting that the first case of Monkeypox in India was reported in Kerala, the Union Minister added, "When the case came to Kerala, we sent an expert team, helped the state government. Contact tracing was done. Just like we exercised caution in the case of COVID-19, we are also doing our best to implement what we learned in battling Monkeypox."
Recalling that monkeypox is not a new disease, the Union Minister stated that many cases have been seen in the world from Africa since the 1970s. "WHO has paid special attention to this. Monitoring has started in India also," he stated.
The minister stated that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is willing to make a vaccine available to reduce the impact of monkeypox. "For the first in the country, the monkeypox virus strain has been isolated by the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology, Pune. The institution has invited an Expression of Interest (EOI), proposing to hand over the strain to industry partners for the development of indigenous vaccine and diagnostic kits for the disease."